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11 Year MTHR Study Finds No Danger from Wireless Mobile Phone Radiation

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 (8:21 am) - Score 12,093

People concerned that wireless radiation from mobile services operating in the electromagnetic spectrum (radio), such as those used for Mobile Phones and Mobile Broadband (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz), can rest a little easier today after an 11-year long and £13.6m UK study found “no evidence” of biological or adverse health effects.

The new report (dated 2012) from the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR), which has been supported by the Government’s Department of Health, summarises studies completed since an earlier report in 2007. In all it has supported 31 research projects that have resulted in nearly 60 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

electromagnetic spectrum mthr

Overall the lengthy research programme found no evidence that exposure to generally low frequency base station (mobile network) emissions during pregnancy affects the risk of developing cancer in early childhood, and no evidence that use of mobile phones can lead to an increased risk of leukaemia.

Likewise it found that modulations applied to radio transmissions and signals from the public Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, which are often used by the emergency services, were both safe or at least had no evidence to support any health fears.

Professor David Coggon, Chairman of MTHR, said:

When the MTHR programme was first set up, there were many scientific uncertainties about possible health risks from mobile phones and related technology. This independent programme is now complete, and despite exhaustive research, we have found no evidence of risks to health from the radio waves produced by mobile phones or their base stations.

Thanks to the research conducted within the programme, we can now be much more confident about the safety of modern telecommunications systems. To be sure that there are no delayed adverse effects, which only become apparent after many years, the programme provided funding to set up an epidemiological investigation (the COSMOS study) which will follow-up a large population of mobile phone users long-term.

Future Government support for this study and any new research on mobile phones and health will be managed by the Department of Health.”

The Programme received approximately £13.6 million of funding from a variety of government and industry sources and, to ensure the independence of the research, scientific management of the programme was entrusted to an independent Programme Management Committee made up of independent experts (mostly senior university academics).

It’s natural for people to fear what they can’t see and some of those fears have occasionally had or very nearly had an adverse effect on plans to improve the coverage of Mobile Broadband and Fixed Wireless Access networks in order to improve Internet connectivity around the UK (e.g. here and here).

However many of those fears have continued to exist, often in spite of evidence to the contrary, and thus we suspect that even this comprehensive 11 year study will do little to dissuade those who see mobile or wireless communication signals as a threat to public health.

In fairness the report concludes by recommending further studies to look at the behavioural/neurological outcomes of mobile phone usage on children, as well as to examine other areas like its potential impact upon sleep and brain function among other things.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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16 Responses
  1. Avatar dragoneast says:

    People don’t trust science which is a bit above voodoo in their understanding; they never have. They like the benefits, though.

    1. Avatar Alan B says:

      Exactly. Electricity pylon health risks is the latest tinfoil-hattery in my country.

  2. Avatar Trevor Barlow says:

    I live approx. 10 meters from a telephone mast. The only effect it has had on my health is the fact that it has made selling my house difficult. The funny part is that people visit and before you know it they have their mobiles glued to their ears! I have to say that the mast is above us because we are on a hillside (in effect) but I haven’t noticed anything in 15 years here.

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      How can you tell an Englishman (apart from that they don’t speak the local language)? When they go to buy anything, they start by finding a reason not to, and when that fails they find an excuse to reduce the price. When that fails, they complain.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      All sounds perfectly reasonable :).

    3. Avatar mcuti5684 says:

      Good post, cell phone radiation is really a serious problem, it’s a factor we all ignor, I just saw an article introduce a new nice wristband to help us see the invisible radiation, iewei wellness wristband @(http://mikeshouts.com/iewei-wellness-wristband/ ) hope this will help you all…

  3. Avatar Verheyden Fr on5go says:

    Why these studies do’nt reach the press.
    I am 50 years radio amateur. I used a large frequency spectrum with outputs greater than that of a cellphone,
    I know in my entourage hams nobody experiencing some discomfort.
    When the university carries an error investigation by declaring that ants die from hf radiation,
    If it subsequently appears that the ants die of the fan from the hf generator, is never put right.
    The science journalism works only with the negative and spectakulaire items. Readers want to be cheated.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I fear you’re correct. A story that reads “hay.. no problems here, all good” is sadly always less likely to be reflected in the mass media than “radiation might fry your brain”.

  4. Avatar nuke says:

    So the photo of the lad wearing a respirator and yellow rain jacket means exactly what in the context of this story?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      “Radiation” paranoia.

  5. Avatar Jeff says:

    In fairness the report concludes by recommending further studies …

    And who’s going to pay for those extra studies?

    Big business doing research into nothing!

  6. Avatar R Blank says:

    What I find most frustrating in this summary, is that it makes it sound as though the studies are 11 years in duration. That does not seem to be accurate. It seems that this team worked for 11 years to compile multiple studies— but the studies themselves did not run for 11 years.

    In my review of research in this area, the vast majority of studies that examined 10 years or more of data have demonstrated correlation between EMF exposures and increased risk for cancerous outcomes. Such as this one:

    As this 2010 article explains: “The 13 studies that investigated cell phone use for 10 or more years found a significant harmful association with tumor risk, especially for brain tumors, giving us ample reason for concern about long-term use.”

    So, while MTHR may have operated for 11 years, that does not mean each of these studies analyzed more than 10 years of data— and so the headline for this article (“11 Year MTHR Study Finds No Danger from Wireless Mobile Phone Radiation”) seems quite misleading.

  7. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    The study you reference is a limited survey that merely suggests an increased risk over the longer term and doesn’t seem to look at / test specific types of mobile radio spectrum, power levels or frequencies. It also focuses almost entirely on an ear cancer, acoustic neuroma, which according to the NHS is fairly rare (“every year, approximately 20 people out of every million”).

    No correlation is actually proved in the study and even if the mobile was the cause then it could have been the level of sound, reaction to the type of plastic touching the ear.. anything.. there’s not enough data there to tell.

    It’s like those studies that say there might be an increased % risk of cancer from eating too many [insert healthy food type here], yet so far the level of acoustic neuroma hasn’t risen by much (accounting for population change).

    1. Avatar Lalali says:

      Well, there are more studies that show a correlation between phone use and different types of brain cancer, for example: http://www.pathophysiologyjournal.com/article/S0928-4680%2812%2900110-1/

      Isn’t it awkward that these are not discussed in this report?

  8. Avatar Dariusz says:

    Well, there are more studies that show a correlation between phone use and different types of brain cancer, for example: http://www.pathophysiologyjournal.com/article/S0928-4680%2812%2900110-1/

    First you give report from others studies for example from R Blank comments and Admin give us good explanation

  9. Avatar Av says:

    It has been shown in history of science that it quite easy for big business to influence research, apparently this research from jointly funded by the telecommunications industry.

    Even in the large majority of conventional scienctific thought, the theory is that the only way radiation can effect living matter in a harmful way is via heating, which in itself predesposes scienctific research to re-establish this paradigm.

    From my experience, I believe harmful effects are present but only extreme for a minority of people (.e.g. nut allegies). More research required into its effects on living matter IMO

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